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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Have You Been Following the Google Book Debates?

A Good Place to Start Is This Article:, and then — for those of us concerned with K-12 books, I’d suggest this thread,  that I weighed in on. Here is the problem: let’s take the most optimistic case possible: Google continues what it is doing already doing: making available libraries of out of copyright text material, to the great benefit of researchers. And, in some follow on from the existing settlement with authors, it also makes available in-copyright texts in some way we all agree is fair — whatever that might be. There is still an insurmountable problem for illustrated nonfiction. As I state in the exchange with with Eric, none of us has cleared, or is likely ever to clear, image permissions for online distribution — we just are not going to pay for those rights, nor will our publishers. So books crafted, created, to be a marriage of text and art, won’t be. The more universal the online standard becomes, the worse for us.

This is just like the price of permissions issue that I recently raised: big actors are making decisions that are crushing for authors, and thus for readers, librarians, teachers, and parents. And we have no voice — no way to articulate our problems, and the price of our exclusion. I use Google books, I love getting to read what I find, and, in adult nonfiction, don’t mind too much when the odd photo or map is blocked. But that experience has nothing to do with the book we craft for younger readers.

Google — are you listening? What would you suggest? How can we bring the bookmaking skill, the rhythm of art and text, which is so much of what we learn in making books for younger readers, to your medium when that entails a level of cost no one can or will assume?


  1. Marc,
    Thank you for bring up this point. I hope somebody is listening.